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Kizuna: Nikkei Stories from the 2011 Japan Earthquake & Tsunami

The Great Tohoku Disaster - Part 8

Read Part 7 >>

This is a recreation of my personal experiences from the e-mails that I sent to friends in Canada and Japan, TV news reports in Canada, the U.S., and Japan, and from what my wife Akiko told me.

Wednesday, March 23


Looting in Sendai! Got any details? What looting?

Yes we have some people going in there and some lights are on. but I guess if someone wants to loot us, they will. The police are often slow even when they are not busy.

I was worried about looting as soon as I shut the door behind me. My sister says that people are starting to get p***ed off.

I am p***ed off at the foreign press. They cannot even get place names right.

Talk again soon! Tomo


Hi Tomo, Good to hear from you.

The looting is happening at vacated homes. I’ve heard that there are community groups patrolling areas to discourage looting. I don’t know about specific areas, but I would contact a neighbor, if you can.

The Kan show continues in Japan. Damn guy can’t be forthcoming about anything. Federal elections are next month in Japan, I believe.

I’ll give you a call in the next couple of days. When are you guys thinking that it might be okay to head back to Sendai? We are starting to doubt that even the end of May will be okay for Akiko.

Go to the “Indian Village” on the beach strip in White Rock. The owner will be thrilled to see you.

All the best, Norm


Well my worst fears are being realized—dammit! We have friends stopping around, but of course this is in the daytime.

AS for going back—how do you make a decision based on the information or rather lack of it. Our ticket is for the 28th, but I may have to pay some money and have my ticket changed to make my classes. One of my three schools got smart and is not going to start classes until the end of Golden Week. Another goes back on the 20th and I don’t know if they are going to modify the date.

If I go back early, I will leave O and S here.

OK ... I’ll see you later online. I am not in very good spirits...sort of depressed and feeling at loose ends. I know that we are lucky, but the whole thing is disheartening.

What is Senji doing? Did he leave his family and go up North? I guess as an ex-shobo auxilliary, he is part of an organized group. I am wondering if I should get him to move his family into my house. The problem is that we do not have a big supply of touyu cuz people have been invited to use it—that is the women looking into our house.

Talk more soon.



Thursday, March 24

Hey Paul, We are watching NBC (Brian Williams) TV to get Japanese news now. PM Kan hasn’t even visited the disaster zone yet! Bizarre, ain’t it? American helicopters, etc. are dropping off relief goods to people on the coast. Where are the Japanese helicopters?????!!!! I don’t know if Aya is following the Japanese news but the government is totally useless and really should be shot for the way they are reacting to this situation. They certainly don’t give a damn for the Tohoku people.

Akiko told me that there is a hospital close to the Fukushima plant that was deserted by all of the doctors and nurses there. Problem was that they left behind elderly patients who weren’t able to look after themselves. My gawd.... it wasn’t until the local police came by to check on the building that they were discovered.

Anyhow, my friend, we are going to sell cupcakes next week to raise some funds and will pass around a bucket on Saturday at an event that I organize at the Toronto JCCC to raise more funds. Hope that all is well out your way. Norm


Norm, I would have to say, a lot is weird in Japan, and it only takes a major disaster like this to reveal some of the gaping faults—there is of course some good as well but always stuff that makes a person say, WTF

This is scary.

Good luck raising money.
Had PT interviews last night. The usual. Later. Paul


Norman, Not only “Where are the Japanese helicopters...,” but where the f*** are the big transport planes pushing out parachute pallets of supplies! Where are the Japanese warships with their decks stacked with goods and lighters to ferry the stuff to crippled ports. There is no imagination and I am convinced the resources of this country are often sitting unused.

The copter the US are using are probably big CH-135 Chinooks. The Japanese have these too, but I do not know how many. The Japanese are using a lot of other smaller machines. They were based at the small JSDF aerodrome near us. The chopper traffic was constant until shortly before we left. Then it got strangely quiet/I do not know why.
We are in Vancouver, Paul. Right now I am staying with old friends, and O-san and S-kun are staying with O-san’s very good J-friend. Satchiko Katz is not like so many Japanese women that come here. She adapted very well, speaks fluent English, is raising an 11 year old boy Mo and 16 year old Anna who speaks Japanese and is as charming as you can imagine. Satchiko works for the local Nissei/ex-pat Japanese newspaper. She is connected to advertising.

As for the abandoned hospital ... gut fear will cause people to do such things. It seems terrible, but in wartime, for example, such things are commonplace. And the opposite as well. astonishing sacrifices are made by other people. It is easy to imagine that these people left to get their own children and others to safety.

I did see some TV coverage of some hospital in the evacuated area where docs and nurses had stayed behind with the oldsters and were treating them and others who had remained.



PS: I must go back ... I will go back to work. All things considered, there is no choice. If the nuke does a silly bugger, I’ll leave O-san and S-kun here.

Part 9 >>

© 2011 Norm Ibuki

Canada disaster earthquake Japan JPquake2011 sendai

About this series

In Japanese, kizuna means strong emotional bonds.

This series shares stories about Nikkei individual and/or community reaction and perspectives on the Great Tohoku Kanto earthquake on March 11, 2011 and the resulting tsunami and other impacts—either about supporting relief efforts or how what has happened has affected them and their feeling of connection to Japan.

If you would like to share your reactions, please see the “Submit an Article” page for general submission guidelines. We welcome submissions in English, Japanese, Spanish, and/or Portuguese, and are seeking diverse stories from around the world.

We hope that these stories bring some comfort to those affected in Japan and around the world, and that this will become like a time capsule of responses and perspectives from our global Nima-kai community for the future.

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There are many organizations and relief funds established around the world providing support for Japan. Follow us on Twitter @discovernikkei for info on Nikkei relief efforts, or check the Events section. If you’re posting a Japan relief fundraising event, please add the tag “JPquake2011” to make it appear on the list of earthquake relief events.